Sunday in Stockholm. I'd read that Sundays can be a bit of a painpoint for tourists in Europe, because things close early (or don't open at all) so that everyone can have a break. It's a good idea, but when I verified this with my German roomie, she agreed that it kind of sucked, because you had to plan ahead of time.
Which is what I definitely did before even boarding my flight to Stockholm. For example, the city hall was closed on Sundays but not Drottningholms slott…
Drottningholms slott (Drottningholm Palace)
The palace opened at 10am but I wasn't strict about getting there before opening. To get there, I had to take a metro from Sankt Eriksplan to Brommaplan and then a #177 bus. It took about 35mins. Upon exiting Brommaplan station there was an overwhelming smell of kanelbullar. And yep, I caved and bought one (SEK 17 = AUD 2.72) . It was from a 7 Eleven competitor, Pressbyrån. Unfortunately it was not as good as yesterday's, but it wasn't bad at all.
The palace was pretty grand, but of course it is, it's the Swedish Royal family's residence. Would absolutely be nice to live in that. I decided not to pay to go inside ($$$) but I wasn't even sure if they were accepting visitors as all the gates were closed. The website did say it was open.
So I walked around in the gardens for a bit. The hedges were all very nicely maintained but the gardens weren't that pretty, there was a real lack of flowers. The grounds were huge and I didn't have the patience to really walk through it all.
I decided go to back to Vasastan to check it out some more. I had already seen a lot of Odengaten but I wanted to visit another part. I had read it was a good area to live in.
I took the metro to Rådmansgatan. It was pretty quiet, being a Sunday. I walked down Sveavägen, which seemed like a main street but there wasn't much open. I checked out Lidl, which is supposed to be cheap, but wasn't really. Then I really needed to go to the loo so I had to walk all the way back to the metro station, where there was a Maccas. But guess what, you had TO PAY to use the bathrooms. The bathrooms werent segreated by gender, like the ones in mist countries. They had individual WCs with a lock on the door. You had to insert coins into the door before you could pull open the door. What madness. I didn't even have any money at all.
I was looking bewildered and there this lady was standing there watching me and she suddenly spoke to me in Swedish. I asked her if she knew English. She told me that yes I had to pay but I could use the loo after she was done. I thanked her and she waltzed right into a loo. WITHOUT PAYING. How???
She didn't take long and I went in after her. The place was pretty dank, I would've been pissed if I had to pay SEK5 (almost AUD 1) to enter. Gross.
So after that I felt bad for freeloading and I may as well have a cheap lunch so I lined up to order. My cards got declined :( I walked off
I decided to walk straight down South into Norrmalm. I had planned to visit an attraction near Norrmalm so I may as well. I walked all the way to the next Mcdonalds (it was a good 7 min walk!) and upon entering, a lady informed me that all cards are not working at the moment. Ohh shit.
I walked to Hötorgshallen (only 100m away), which is a nicer kind of food court, it was more like a place with a bunch of restaurants featuriing different cuisines. I picked a restaurant I didn't mind eating at (it featured Swedish fare) and I noticed they had a handwritten sign in Swedish hung up. I typed the whole damn thing into google translate and it said the same thing (no cards accepeted today). Omg, does this mean I couldn't use my card at all????? I'm hungryyyyy.
So I caved and walked ages to find an ATM (those things are bloody rare, you can pay for everything with card so why the hell do you need cash right?). There was a longish line of people waiting to use the ATM. Maybe there was a problem with credit cards. In the queue was a lady who was talking to a dirty looking man. I watched as she took out SEK500 and handed it to him and swiftly walked away. He stopped her to hug her. Wow…
I went back to the Maccas and ordered a McBean meal for SEK49 (AUD 7.70). This was part of a promo Maccas was running (“cheap” SEK49 meals, I think). AUD7.70 sounded about right for like a Big Mac meal but this McBean was a bit small, like cheeseburger size.
The McBean, as you could probably guess, is a vegetarian burger with a patty made of beans. I had never had anything vegetarian from Maccas before (I know it's available in India) and was surprised to see it here in Sweden. Upon further research, it seems the McBean is ONLY available periodically in Sweden! And I had given up finding country exclusives in “Western” countries! (I still maintain the best Maccas is Asian Maccas). The McBean burger featured salad, mayo and a vege pattie which was cirspy on the outside and mushy on the inside. It's made of canellini beans, red kidney beans, carrot, onion, capsicum and a bunch of spices. Not that you can really tell, because it's all mostly mushed up but you can see chunky bits of bean. What did it taste like? It tasted like Tex Mex. Yep, that's right, that's what all those spices were for. Overall, it wasn't bad for a meal at Maccas. The patty wasn't oily at all. I would probably eat it again. 7/10 #ipinions
Medeltidsmuseet (Museum of Medieval Stockholm)
After lunch I took a bus to the Medeltidsmuseet. I got off at Gustav Adolfs torg (square) and had a walk around the immediate area; the architecture was amazing. There was the Opera House and Saint James's Church, which was painted in bright red. You could also see the Grand Hotel which did look quite grand.
The Medeltidsmuseet was free, and I had time to kill, so why not? I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. It was pretty interesting, but it touched upon the Medieval times in a pretty superficial way. I suppose it was more suitable for children. The main highlights were the remains of the city wall and the remains of a ship. There were plenty of other artefacts but most were just of every day items like shoes, cutlery and decorative pieces.
Skogskyrkogården (Woodland cemetary)
I took the metro at Gamla Stan to Skogskyrkogården station to see Skogskyrkogården, a UNESCO listed cemetary. It was a bit odd going out of my way to visit a cemetary but they did welcome visitors. Skogskyrkogården is designed with nature in mind, as a way to help with grief. For example, the Meditation grove is a little tree lined grove on the top of a hill that is accessed by some steps, which gradually get smaller and smaller as you reach the top. You can see over the cemetary at the top and on the other side is just a gravel path. This symbolises the journey of grief.
I walked around the cemetary for a while, it was quite peaceful and you could hear the birds singing even though there was a highway just outside the cemetary. It was a very unique cemetary.
When I was done, I walked to Tallkrogen station. It was suburbia between the station and the cemetary and the streets I walked on were extremely narrow. The houses were all quite small and cute and brightly painted. People didn't install high fences on their property, so you could definitely see what your neighbour was up to.
I took the train to Farsta, which was supposedly an ok place to live. It seemed pretty quiet but had a shopping centre with about 3 supermarkets as well as other shops. It was medium density living close to the station, with lots of units.
I got a bit sick of walking around so I went back to the hostel to chill out for a bit. My roomies were all quite talkative today. There was a couple of Americans, a French person and a Romanian.
For dinner I decided to go to Meatballs for the People. It was initially on my list, but after I had meatballs at Stockholms Gastrobud at Gamla Stan, it fell off my radar. But a couple of people in my hostel had gone and said it was the best ever, so ok fine.
I got there 40mins before it was supposed to close and got turned away because they were “closing”. Well boo to you too.
So I quickly googled for an acceptable place nearby. I wanted to have Swedish food, dammit. I found Restaurang Kvarnen, which was right by the metro station I had travelled to initially (Medborgarplatsen). Kvarnen was an old skool place that's been around for 100 years. It sure looked old, the interiors and furniture was all wooden.
For dinner I had the Reindeer stew (mushrooms, cream, whey spread, cured lingonberries and mashed potato). Unfortunately it wasn't really a stew; the brown stuff was more like a sauce, very similar to the sauce I had with my meatballs 2 days ago. The reindeer had a similar taste and consistency of beef and pork (a mixture of the two I suppose) but was a little chewy, perhaps it was overcooked. The lingonberries were again, great. It was a huge meal and I suppose it was a solid meal, but I was a little disappointed because it was quite similar to my meatball meal. I was also served free crispbread and butter. SEK 220 = AUD 35.20. 7/10 #ipinions
Final thoughts on Stockholm
- Good public transport, but bloody expensive.
- Food has been quite good.
- Not much to do as a tourist, 3 days is too long. 2 is more than enough.
- You knew this was coming - $$$expensive$$$
- Seems like a quiet city, it probably would be nice to live in, but quiet.
- It's only September and it's cold. Well, not really but it is when it's windy.
- Probably one of those cities where you need a local to show you around.